Take 5 each morning: Start each day off with five minutes of review of what needs to be accomplished today. This needs to happen before you start answering emails or returning calls. Prioritize and move on.
Make a new list every day: I use a legal pad and start fresh every day, but do what works for you. Whether it’s paper or electronic, the key is to be consistent and work the list.
Check in: Plan check in times with yourself throughout the day. Go back to your early morning priorities. Are they lining up? Do you need to adjust?
Plan for interruptions: Ever have one of those days where you’ve booked so many meetings that you can’t get off one call and onto the next? Well, don’t. Give yourself time to “get to class.”
FAR Rule of three (File it, Act on it, recycle it): If you pick something up, use these rules: File it if it needs to be filed (important documents, statements); Act on it, make the call, send the email, pay the bill, or recycle it (shred it, throw it away).
Invest in expensive software (or don’t): Do you need software to keep organized? If you do, that’s great. There are lots of programs out there (many free!) to help you. The key is to find out what works for you and what you will keep using.
Keep track of what went right and wrong: If you are in the middle of a transition or just trying to get an understanding of where your day goes, keep a journal of what went right and wrong. You don’t have to do it forever and it can be on paper or electronic, but reviewing it after a week can be very helpful.
Take out the trash: See number 5 above. I bet you didn’t throw out as much as you should have. If it’s important, scan it and file it, otherwise shred and recycle!
Use the Red Star System (or blue, green or purple): I made that up. There isn’t a Red Star System. But make up your own. Find a way to identify important things that must get done today and “star” them or circle them, or do whatever works for you.
Take 5 at the end of the day: Before you stop for the day, take five and review what got done and what needs to be added to the list for tomorrow. When you start again in the morning, you’ll be ready to cross off number 1 above before you even get started!